Friday, February 11, 2011

Take Up Your Cross. No, Mine.

Too often, we elevate the importance of the work God has called us to. So we are called to do this or that work and we believe it the apex of Christian life, of incarnational or iconic living. Our apostolate always seems greater than another's, our spiritual emphases and works of mercy a clearer path to God. This, of course, is untrue generally, though it may be true specifically. That you are called to have a dozen children may be necessary for your salvation. Or that you become a monk. Or that you work as a missionary or a priest or a homemaker. Now all these are good, and we may, to a greater or lesser extent, be expected to be involved in a variety of these callings - though in different functions. But my service is different than your service. It ought to be. If I push hard enough, my calling becomes bent from its original shape and no longer remains in service to Christ and his Church. To borrow St Paul's metaphor, the Body becomes grossly disfigured as the hand becomes everything. And then my life leans fully into egoism and autonomy, and, sometimes, potentially, heresy. Of course, this does not mean we cease to take up our cross, but rather that we do not demand our neighbor take it up as well - or think that if he doesn't, he does not serve God as he ought or as well as we do. Do not judge him, he has his own cross to bear.

Before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was asked in an interview, "How many paths are there to God?" And Cardinal Ratzinger answered, "As many as there are people."

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